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One Belt, One Road: China heralds ‘Digital Silk Road’; foresees internet-era power shift soon

In an eastern Chinese town not too far from Shanghai, cybertechnology leaders and government officials from around the world gathered this week to discuss the future of the global digital economy.

Key points:

  • Countries including Saudi Arabia agree to help establish the Digital Silk Road
  • Tech leaders say China could “seize” control of digital era in “next few years”
  • US businessmen are now wedged between Trump nationalism and China’s crucial market
  • Alibaba founder says tech revolutions usually lead to war, but this time can be different

“This year’s theme is set with a hope that we can better embrace the historical opportunities brought by the development of the internet, as well as use the digital economy as a key driving force to promote openness, cooperation, communication and sharing of cyberspace,” Wang Huning, a leading member of the Communist Party, said during his opening speech to the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen.

However, beyond the usual deluge of platitudes and jargon that generally tend to accompany technological events, two key elements set this year’s conference apart, marking a potential shift in power in the ongoing race for global digital domination.

One is that this year’s event marks the first time that leading Western cybertechnology trailblazers — including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Facebook executives; whose many platforms are banned in China — attended the conference, which was previously a fairly local, state-run affair criticised internationally for its promotion of censorship and control.

As President Xi Jinping reiterated during an opening statement on Sunday, China’s cyberspace channels are “entering a fast lane [and] will become more and more open” — however, he maintained, “cyber sovereignty” will most definitely remain a key part of China’s vision of global internet expansion.

Cyber sovereignty is the idea that states should be permitted to manage and contain their own internet without interference.

As observers noted, the high-profile attendance of American technology leaders at a Chinese conference promoting Beijing’s vision of a censored internet highlights the dilemma for Western tech companies trying to break into in an increasingly crucial and lucrative yet restricted market.

‘What will China export via the Digital Silk Road?’

The second element that set this year’s conference apart is that woven in between the broader themes of global cooperation in the internet-era and the like, China appeared to be unveiling a tangible vision for the future of a “Digital Silk Road” as part of the country’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

The promotion of the Digital Silk Road — which has been portrayed as a central element of the event in the Chinese press — seems to have been largely overlooked in the Western media, which is still concerned about the details of Beijing’s digital censorship.

“Beijing will lead the construction of the digital era equivalent of the World Trade Organisation, layout down the infrastructure of a ‘Digital Silk Road’ through its One Belt, One Road initiative,” Wang Huiyao, founder and president of Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG), said in an event interview.

“There has always been the question: What will China export via the Digital Silk Road? The answer has long been evident: a digital economic infrastructure that will allow China’s technological prowess to go global.”

In 2016, China’s digital economy — which consists of some 700 million internet and mobile users — grew by nearly 20 per cent and contributed 22.6 trillion yuan ($4.38 trillion) to the country’s economy, according to national communications officials. And 2017 has shown no sign of that growth stopping.

The Digital Silk Road has been floated around as a poorly understood catchphrase over the last few months since the official launch of the One Belt, One Road initiative this year, but this time it comes on the heels of a series of global deals and agreements signed by Beijing and various governments around the world.

Is China readying for digital domination?

At the conference, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Laos, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were among several of the countries that openly “agreed to cooperate with China in the digital economy to build an interconnected Digital Silk Road,” Chinese state media outlets announced.

According to the reports, together, the eight countries will expand broadband access, promote a digital transformation, encourage e-commerce cooperation, as well as seek to encourage policy-making to create a transparent digital economy and promote cooperation in international standardisation.

“China stands ready to develop new rules and systems of internet governance to serve all parties and counteract current imbalances,” senior Party leader Wang Huning said.

Wang Jing, founder and CEO of JingChi Corporation, added: “China is a key player in this mobile internet trend, and it is very likely that China will seize the leadership in the next few years.”

The announcement of a strengthening Digital Silk Road also comes amid concerns of Chinese digital expansion on Australia’s own doorsteps throughout the Pacific, which were later reportedly countered by deals from the Australian Government.

“We saw in Solomon Islands a few months ago Huawei announced that they would be delivering a cable from Solomon Islands into Australia’s cable network,” Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute, told the ABC last month.

“That results in some really significant national security issues for Australia.

“Having a Chinese state-owned enterprise connecting up to a piece of critical domestic infrastructure is pretty unpalatable for the Australian Government.”

But this week, American computer scientist and Turing Award recipient John Hopcroft said in an interview at the Wuzhen conference that the “world is undergoing a vast information revolution — like the agrarian revolution and the industrial revolution — in which the definition of society and work is to be rewritten”.

“China will become a leader in innovation in science, engineering and even human well-being [and] it will make a significant contribution to social change and ways to improve human survival,” Mr Hopcroft said.

“It is now a strong competitor to the US in the race to lead the information revolution”

‘Technological shift from West to East’

But in an increasingly globalised world and amid a kickback via US President Donald Trump’s anti-globalisation policy pushes, American technology companies and Western innovation are inevitably going to find themselves at a crossroads.

At the Wuzhen conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that developers using his company’s platforms had made up to $US17 billion from app sales in China — representing roughly a quarter of its total global App Store earnings — despite self-censorship concerns from rights groups.

Meanwhile, former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin added during a Digital Silk Road panel discussion at the conference that a digital power shift was already underway.

“There has been a technological shift from the West to the East with the rise of internet champions in China as an alternative to the US monopoly,” Mr Villepin said.

“The Chinese authorities have proven their willingness to position China as a cyber power expanding internet services from Asia to Europe and Africa along the Digital Silk Road.”

Speaking at the conference, Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, said a third technological revolution was on the horizon, but expressed hope that it would not lead to conflicts, but rather, increased global cooperation.

“The first technological revolution brought about the First World War, and the second technological revolution led to the Second World War, so the third technological revolution means a third world war may be in store,” Mr Ma said.

“But it will not be a war where countries fight with one another, but a war to fight against disease, poverty, and climate change through our joint efforts.”

Bitcoin: Here’s what would happen if the ‘bubble’ burst (and why it probably won’t impact you)

ABC News Australia 1st December 2017

Bitcoin has crossed over the $US11,000 mark — briefly — as it continues its whirlwind end to the year.

It’s more than welcome news to investors, who are embracing the increasing value of the digital currency, but market analysts are a bit more sceptical.

Here’s why some are predicting a bitcoin crash and what would happen if it does.

ICYMI, Bitcoin is going crazy right now

Bitcoin is a type of digital cryptocurrency that first emerged in 2009.

What is Bitcoin?

  • A digital cryptocurrency
  • It operates on a decentralised peer-to-peer network, with no central authority or government backing
  • They can be bought with fiat currencies like Australian dollars from online exchanges or created through mining

The reason why everyone keeps talking about it is because it’s increased tenfold in its value since the beginning of the year, and is currently worth more than $US10,000 after its value more than doubled since the beginning of October.

“The bitcoin phenomenon is almost unprecedented,” John Noonan, senior forex analyst at Thomson Noonan, said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, certainly in my 44 years.

In fact, the cryptocurrency’s current market capitalisation — its price multiplied by the number of coins that have been released into the system — is roughly $US214 billion, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.

To put that in perspective, that is equivalent to the combined market cap of the Commonwealth Bank (at $140 billion) and National Australia Bank (at $80 billion).

Mr Noonan told ABC News Breakfast there are a few reasons that make bitcoin an attractive bet to some investors, including the fact it does not have a central bank and that there is a limited supply of bitcoins.

One of the other factors credited with driving the prices higher has been the announcement that investors will soon be able to bet on bitcoin futures. Even the Nasdaq is reportedly looking at getting in on that.

There’s also a great deal of hype going on, fuelled somewhat by the intense media coverage it’s been getting lately.

That means some are predicting a crash

Some experts and economists see the massive growth in bitcoin value over a short period of time as an indication that people are buying because of the hype. They appear to see it as a risky investment at best, extremely volatile at worst.

It took 834 days for Bitcoin to top $US1,000, and another 1,270 days to hit $US2,000 on May 20, 2017. But in the later half of this year alone, it has already surpassed $10,000.

It’s why analysts are comparing it to Tulip Mania and the dot-com crash. Bloomberg’s Stephen Gandel has even estimated that based on valuation, bitcoins are four times more expensive than dot-com stocks were at the height of their bubble.

Over the past two years, the digital currency has experienced numerous crashes, usually every couple of months.

So what would a bitcoin wipeout look like?

If there was a catastrophic fall in prices, there would be winners and losers.

But it is unlikely to pose a risk to the global economy like other bubbles, according to bitcoin expert Adrian Lee, a senior lecturer in finance at the University of Technology in Sydney.

That’s because, for one thing, there’s not as much money tied up in bitcoin as there was during the dot-com bubble, Mr Lee says, pointing out that while there is billions in bitcoin, there were trillions spent during the dot-com bubble.

“So [for example], it wouldn’t effect the Australia dollar I’d say, because nobody really uses it at the moment,” he said.

“If you think about it, there’s trillions of trading in the Australian dollar whereas bitcoin is at most worth [approximately] $200 billion at total so it’s hardly anything compared to the trillions in foreign exchange.

What also makes this unique is that it is unlikely people are borrowing to invest in bitcoin, according to RMIT professor of economics Jason Potts.

“There’s very little evidence of anyone borrowing money to buy cryptocurrency and if I was a bank or a lender, there’s no way I would loan out money to do that,” he said.

Could a bitcoin crash spark a bigger crash?

Our experts said that seemed unlikely. It’s still a relatively small number of people with money invested — roughly similar to the amount of people using email in 1994, Mr Potts said. So we’re still very much in the early adoption phase.

And Mr Potts said there had not been many retail investors involved. “The sort of people who would hold superannuation funds … they’re not in this market and might not be for some time,” he said.

That would limit the fallout to the wider economy in a worst-case scenario. “If it crashed, it would only largely be those people who speculate on it, maybe people who use bitcoin and maybe the exchanges may lose money. But then again the exchanges don’t require much overhead to run it, so if it fell they’d still be OK,” Mr Lee said.

Mr Potts agreed. “It doesn’t actually cause catastrophic financial meltdown. Some people who bought at the wrong time would be angry, other people who have been waiting to buy would be happy,” he said.

Those who have invested in associated entities, including mining infrastructure and ICO-based businesses, would also lose out, Mr Lee said.

“The bitcoin miners would take a big hit, these guys who all they do is buy machines to mine bitcoins will lose money when the value falls,” Mr Lee said.

He also said the impact on other cryptocurrencies would depend on what sparked the crash.

If it were as a result of central banks cracking down on bitcoin then you would expect the value of other cryptocurrencies to also fall. But if it was because of irrational exuberance, then only those cryptocurrencies that have experienced similarly sharp rises in their value would drop.

And it might not even be a bubble

Mr Potts says the chances of systematic crash are extremely low.

The bitcoin expert told the ABC that the recent surge in value is not a ‘bubble’ but a “price discovery”.

“Bubbles are things that happen to technologies or commodities or products that we know what they’re for, so tulips can have a bubble because you know what they’re for, or houses can have a bubble if the price of a house departs wildly from people’s ability to pay … but this isn’t like that,” he said.

“This is a fundamental, radical new technology where every day we’re discovering new uses for it and that gets priced in.

“I think what we’re observing in this growth of price over the last nine years … is this gradual discovery of more and more uses for it, this gradual confidence in the technology.”

Besides, Mr Potts says there’s been what could be described as “crashes” in bitcoin every few months. On Wednesday alone, bitcoin rose as much as 15 per cent, but by mid-afternoon (US time) was trading at $US9,500 at one point because of a crash that lasted roughly six hours.

“There’s been some big crashes, crashes of up to 80 per cent [of its value] and it’s recovered,” he said. “What’s impressive is that they happen and then it bounces back.”

“There’s an enormous amount of volatility, but there’s also a long-term growth trend in bitcoin in particular. It has grown [apart from 2014] every other year so over in the long-term it’s been a solidly performing asset,” he said.

“It’s just scary to hold.”

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Don’t Look Now, but Arctic Sea Ice Mass has Grown almost 40% since 2012

Sunday, October 01, 2017 by: Tracey Watson

 
One of the most popular pieces of “evidence” that climate alarmists just love to bring up to prove the global warming narrative is the “all the ice is melting in the Arctic and the polar bears are dying” line. We’ve all seen the documentaries where a polar bear is desperately clinging to a tiny piece of ice and you just know he’s going to die soon. But is any of it really true? What does the latest science really say about the ice in the Arctic circle?
Earlier this month, Climate Depot reported that the latest figures from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, located at the University of Colorado, show that sea ice extent has increased by 40 percent since 2012.  The Danish Polar Portal, which monitors ice and climate in the Arctic, reported on the 12th of September this year:
There has been quite some discussion about Greenland in the climate blogosphere this year. Heavy snow and rain in winter with a relatively short and intermittent summer melt season have left the Greenland ice sheet with more ice than has been usual over the last twenty years – in fact we have to go back to the 1980s and 90s to see a year similar to this one in terms of snow fall and ice melt, though perhaps not for iceberg calving. Š
 
This has been the pattern in the Arctic over the last few years. Back in 2015, BBC News reported that Arctic ice had grown by a staggering 30 percent after what they called an “unusually cool summer” – ‘unusual’ indeed, if the global warming narrative is to be believed. That trajectory continued into 2014, and the increases in ice for those two years exceeded all recorded losses in the preceding three years. That 30 percent constituted a massive amount of physical land area – the Daily Mail reported at the time that a cooler Arctic summer had left over 530,000 additional square miles of ice than the previous year.
Astoundingly, the mainstream media, in spite of having this information at their fingertips, continue to spout the same old global warming story.  
 
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Underwater photographer on a mission to inspire change with photo he wished didn’t exist

The photographer behind a compelling image of a seahorse gripping a cotton bud in Indonesia says he hopes the photo will “affect people’s lives and create a change”.

The photo is one of the finalist images selected for the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, now in its 53rd year.

After the announcement, expedition leader and underwater photographer Justin Hofman shared the photo on Instagram, saying he wished it “did not exist”.

“Now that it does, I want everyone to see it,” he wrote.

“What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little seahorse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage.

“This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans. What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet?”

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Climate change science implodes as IPCC climate models found to be “totally wrong” … temperatures aren’t rising as predicted … hoax unraveling

Image: Climate change science implodes as IPCC climate models found to be “totally wrong” … temperatures aren’t rising as predicted … hoax unraveling

(Natural News) A stunning new science paper authored by climate change alarmists and published in the science journal Nature Geoscience has just broken the back of the climate change hoax. The paper, authored by Myles R. Allen, Richard J. Millar and others, reveals that global warming climate models are flat wrong, having been deceptively biased toward “worst case” warming predictions that now turn out to be paranoid scare mongering.

The paper, entitled, “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C,” concludes that the global warming long feared and hyped by everyone from Al Gore to CNN talking heads was based on faulty software models that don’t stand up to actual measured temperatures in the real world. In technical jargon, the paper explains, “We show that limiting cumulative post-2015 CO2 emissions to about 200GtC would limit post-2015 warming to less than 0.6°C in 66% of Earth system model members.”

In effect, the current global warming software models used by the IPCC and cited by the media wildly over-estimate the warming effects of CO2 emissions. How much do they over-estimate warming? By about 50%. Where the software models predicted a 1.3 C rise in average global temperatures, only a rise of about 0.9 C has actually been recorded (and many data points in that average have, of course, been fabricated by climate change scientists to push a political narrative). In other words, carbon dioxide emissions don’t produce the warming effects that have been blindly claimed by climate change alarmists.

“Climate change poses less of an immediate threat to the planet than previously thought because scientists got their modelling wrong,” reports the UK Telegraph. “New research by British scientists reveals the world is being polluted and warming up less quickly than 10-year-old forecasts predicted, giving countries more time to get a grip on their carbon output.”

In other words, the climate change threat has been wildly overstated. The fear mongering of Al Gore and the government-funded science community can truly only be described as a “junk science hoax.”

Climate alarmists suddenly find themselves admitting they were wrong all along

“The paper … concedes that it is now almost impossible that the doomsday predictions made in the last IPCC Assessment Report of 1.5 degrees C warming above pre-industrial levels by 2022 will come true,” writes James Delingpole. He goes on to say:

One researcher – from the alarmist side of the argument, not the skeptical one – has described the paper’s conclusion as “breathtaking” in its implications.

He’s right. The scientists who’ve written this paper aren’t climate skeptics. They’re longstanding warmists, implacable foes of climate skeptics, and they’re also actually the people responsible for producing the IPCC’s carbon budget.

In other words, this represents the most massive climbdown from the alarmist camp.

Are we about to see climate change alarmists owning up to the fact that real-world data show their software models to be rooted in junk science? The unraveling has begun, but there is so much political capital already invested in the false climate change narrative that it will take years to fully expose the depth of scientific fraud and political dishonesty underpinning the global warming hoax.

Climate change software models were deliberately tweaked to paint an exaggerated doomsday picture in order to scare the world into compliance panic

What’s clear from all this is that IPCC software models were deliberately biased in favor of the worst-case “doomsday” predictions in order to terrorize the world with a fake climate change hoax. But now the fake science is catching up to them, and they’re getting caught in their own lies.

The software models, by the way, were fraudulently programmed with dishonest model “weights” to produce alarming warming predictions no matter what temperature data points were entered into the system.

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